Third Time’s The Charm: Maryland Deathfest, Thursday and Friday

It finally happened. I had a good, no, GREAT time at Maryland Deathfest. Would’ve been better if I could have seen Garm’s unibrow rustling in concentration, but still, fun. Absolutely free of poorly thought out drinking binges, interpersonal drama, God, and other messy things that prevent you from living like a human, I’m glad to report a success story where I not only saw most of the bands I cared to see, but also was fuckin’ FIERCE in , goddamn. Lookin’ and feelin’ good are only two parts to the complex and variable happening that is America’s biggest metal/hardcore party of the year, but it’s easy to forget that when you’re crying and/or puking, and I’m glad to say I only did the latter once, and it was a party puke making room for more party as opposed to an “I hate myself and will try not to do this again” puke. Awesome. Now let’s talk about some shit.

Thursday

There’s not much to say bandwise about Thursday, because fuck New York traffic. Slapshot got it right, they shouldn’t apologise for that shit. Just take a look at this monstrous eyesore I got treated to at the Port Authority station.

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A motherfucking Cake Boss Café. Reaffirms misanthropy like little else. The icing on this cake of fuck is the presence of televisions airing the damn show to the lobotomised patrons. And don’t get me wrong: my brief sojourn to Times Square allowed me to bear witness to a lot of other unspeakable horrors including a strip club/body sushi bar/steak joint (unholy!) but it pains me to even think of the massive overcrowding and overstylised tomfoolery that is that den of iniquity. It takes 30 minutes to get out of that gods accursed necropolis, even with clear traffic, so avoid at all costs all the time. Now that I’m done bitching about long bus rides (and it was long), I’d like to take a moment to give a HUGE shoutout to a certain Peter Willis for setting me up with a couch to crash on the entire MDF weekend, via couchsurfing.org. Highly recommended if you can’t afford a hotel or just don’t want to deal with one anyway. This guy saved my life, and unfortunately I didn’t think to get a picture with him, but here’s his dresser clandestinely snapped pre-cleanup because he’s a party animal.

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To Baltimore natives, Modelo and Natty Boh are water, and Strong Bow Cider is their apple juice.

So without further ado (and I’m not even sure about the ado), I made my sweet little way to the Ram’s Head, and I must say it’s a tad fancier than I would have thought, being called Ram’s Head. I had in mind a bar shitty enough to be Deathfest material, but that was only the bowels. The outside has a fancy ass fountain with lights that make it look like Vegas or someshit. Too cool, dude. And it’s near the most brutal Holocaust memorial you’ll ever see.

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Isn’t that fucking metal? And not just because it’s cast in iron or whatever, but because it’s a bunch of bodies burning, twisting, writhing, and melting in spiritless agony. Forever. Fuckin’ rad. Boston’s glass tubes full of steam can’t compare.

Appropriately in the mood for Coffins after some rituals near this most blesséd monument to misery, I stepped face-first into the sludge.

The embodiment of dark, slow and heavy, and a direct genetic predecessor to Winter’s death/doom monstrosity, Japan’s Coffins is a contender for one of the most disgustingly oppressive metal bands out there. And they’re actually good at what they do, too. The distortion serves not as a cover-up for being shitty musicians (they aren’t), but creates that foreboding grave-like atmosphere we sick fucks need to feel alive. Now one member heavier after moving Ryo from drums to frontman and getting a new stickman during the making of their punishing new album The Fleshland, they brought out plenty of hits from the hellish Buried Death, my personal favourite (though suspiciously missing “Cadaver Blood”, why?). You’d be amazed at how fast a crowd can get moving even though the music runs like a tank draped in human bodies. Easily one of the more brutal pits of the weekend. Nearly lost my shit —as in my possessions, as you know I went ham— but it was totally worth it. “See you tomorrow”, Bungo or Ryo quipped as they signed off, with a smile.

Following with another hard C to the jaw, Nawlins’ own Crowbar came up to the plate and delivered sorrowful Southern sermons to our congregation of freaks.

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There they were chugging along dutifully onstage, I’m looking at guitarist Matthew Brunson as the blues flowed freely, and suddenly there’s a scrawny-looking guy feeling the fury of Kirk Windstein’s foot to his face. Now everyone’s mind is in “what the fuck?” mode for a moment, and conflicting accounts of the “what” rose faster than weeds outside a shitty project building. Apparently a fan got onstage, got tackled by security into Kirk, which then prompted Kirk’s “what the fuck” mode, and subsequently a violent reaction that was probably not needed, in light of the whole Randy Blythe kerfuffle. Despite this hiccup, however, they finished their set like gentlemen, and all was well. No clue what happened with the guy that undoubtedly still has a shoeprint in his forehead, but I hope that wasn’t the highlight of his weekend. I mean, aside from that, the set went well. I made a man of myself by throwing the shit down during “Cemetery Angels” in a goddamn blue miniskirt. Get on that level, chumps.

Switzerland’s Triptykon was supposed to headline, but due to the sudden and tragic death of band friend and artist, H.R. Giger, and the subsequent scheduling of his funeral, they couldn’t make it, though the MDF XII shirts tell a different story.

Friday

Good Friday indeed! Oh the wonderful tales I could tell you about successfully defeating homophobia by simply walking away from loudmouthed dumbasses, or I could just review bands, which is a better idea, actually.

So, this is the second time I’ve seen New York’s Castevet here at Deathfest, and like their hometown, I’m not sure why it’s considered such a hot item, even though it has elements that I like. I enjoy their post-hardcore tendencies more than their Black Metal ones. Weird, ain’t it? I would have stuck around to hear more of Mgla (who are doing far more interesting Black Metal, straight as a shot of Beefeater), but I wanted to A) familiarise myself with the walk to and from the Baltimore Soundstage, because I would end up going back and forth. A lot. Like, more than a kid at a Gorilla Biscuits show, or someshit. Why do they do this to us instead of using the perfectly good former Sonar Compound for a shitshow, the only attraction being that beers were $3 rather than $6? Fuck logic.

Anyhow, yes, Creative Waste from Saudi Arabia, pretty decent. They’ve got the novelty factor of being one of the only known Grind bands from that country for obvious reasons, though they could stand to be more creative in the years to come. They’ve got potential, however, and it’s sweet they could make it out to the US and do stuff. After a bit of getting wasted, I walked back to check out Ruins Of Beverast, and I honestly found their brand of Teutonic Black Metal a tad dull. I swear one of their songs was repeating the same section over and over and over and over until I finally realised it, and then, as if to fuck with me, suddenly it changed. Is this what it’s like having a bad trip just to snap back into reality and find your loved ones dead? No? Completely off-base? I mean, I like atmosphere and all, but I didn’t come to Baltimore to be lulled to eternal slumber. That’s what got me in trouble the last two years.

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This picture with Fizzle D-Dizzle happened at some point around that time, because Ruins of Beverast is the soundtrack to a selfie break.

Following that was Necros Christos, and I must say, golf claps to having the most evil sounding bands play in the bright Baltimore sun. The irony was lost on nobody, I hope. They were decent enough, I remember, but nothing truly stuck out. Yep, the drought of interest was alive, but luckily Lake ACxDC was nearby to quench my thirst for some hard-hitting PV. Since it was still early in the day and not everyone had warmed up, you can guess that the pit was live, but not entirely lit up. Their caustic mix of standard Powerviolence and wacky fun-loving Grindcore makes for some good Christkillin’ tunes, indeed.

A second helping of Coffins was on the menu, and boy was I hungry for more topsoil.

Legit, Coffins could have played all four days and I’d have no problem with that at all. This time around they played more of their “fast” songs, meaning those with more mid-paced tempos, and even “No Saviour”, featuring some blastbeats, which, in my Coffins listening experience, is quite a rare treat. This, however, only proves that the band is not a one-trick pony, and is capable of devastation at several different speeds. Efficiency is terrifying; just ask the Nazis. Not a band to repeat themselves too much, the only returning tracks were “Evil Infection” and “Altars In Gore”, the latter of which made the dance floor shine. With sweat. And beer.

Turning 30 just last year, Norway’s Taake has never been in the U.S., because playing shows in America is not Black Metal, or something. Hoest even decided to wear a robe rather than go balls-out, which would make more sense, given that the weather’s pretty nice around those parts at this time.


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Controversy about telling someone to “go suck a Muslim” —something Creative Waste would probably not appreciate— and all other bullshit that has lead to people falsely pinning the NS tag on them, Taake is probably one of those bands that you hear about more than actually hear. Having exposed myself to some of their music, I can say with certainty that it is good Norwegian Black Metal, and controversy be damned; those riffs are ice fuckin’ cold, son. I’m not terribly familiar with much of their music aside from the hilariously awesome banjo solo on “Myr” from Noregs Vaapen, but I hope this means that they can come back sometime without me having to pay hundreds of dollars. Also, I saw this dead bird on the sidewalk, and someone had removed it by the time I went back out of the Lot.

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They didn’t take the dog shit, though. Guess that would’ve been gross.

Having to dash in the midst of the fog to catch the almighty Capitalist Casualties was a painful, but necessary decision for me to make. If I even missed a minute of their set, I probably would have missed two or three songs, and that is, I assure you, not entirely an exaggeration.


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Think the singer and bassist don’t look PV enough? Here’s their guitarist:

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Now THAT right there is the face of fastcore.

Blistering, impossible hailstorms of insane start-stop tempos, rapid-fire vocals and scathing guitars that straddle the line between an all-out Thrash attack and condensed hardcore ferocity, and I suppose you’ve noticed that I’m fanboying so hard I can’t even stop using ad-words. I’ll be up front and say Capitalist Casualties was one of the main draws for me this year, alongside Coffins. With a 40 minute timeslot, I estimated that they’d play at least 10 songs that I knew. I overshot it by three or four songs, but still, good enough. The fact that they played “Selfish Parochialism” nullified the fact that they didn’t play “Violence Junkie”, or more from their split with Man Is The Bastard, but I seriously can’t even bitch, because when else am I gonna see Capitalist Casualties on the Beast Coast? Geekin’.

The madness was far from over, as Italy’s grind virtuosos Cripple Bastards were up next to ruin any semblance of a face remaining from the previous assault.

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Ranging in styles from faithful three-chords-and-the-truth punk rock to blasting grind, to fret-melting death metal, Cripple Bastards are certainly not short-sighted in their brutality. I’d know what they talked about if I spoke Italian, but I get the feeling that it falls in line with socio-political vitriol, as grind is wont to do. From Assück to Discordance Axis to early Extreme Noise Terror, grind has many flavours, and Cripple Bastards brings a whole plate of goodness to the genre. Just thinking of Italy makes me hungry because I’m fat. Speaking of fat, I got a free Yeungling from some guy.

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Best 6 bucks never spent.

After my lower back was adequately punished by Punx Aerobics 101, I took yet another long walk (and it got longer every time) back to Edison to catch At The Gates, no big deal.

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Alright, so I lied, pretty big deal. At The Gates is only one of the most legendary Melodic Death Metal bands that actually still plays Melodic Death Metal. Who does that shit anymore? Not In Flames, I can tell you that much, even though I love them to death. But yeah, to see the fucking pit surge during “Terminal Spirit Disease” is like a breath of fresh air for MeloDeath. Some dude even got into the circlepit with a camera in hand, and somehow it didn’t get broken. What a man. He’ll put a baby in me one day. The most pleasant surprise of the set: they actually played “The Beautiful Wound”. Holy shit; I thought I was the only person that cared about that song for some odd reason. Killer doesn’t begin to describe it. With fear, I kiss the burning AWESOME.

Following that with the atmospheric as hell black/death/doom two-piece meal Bölzer made for an odd contrast, but it was pretty chill, despite being given the distinct feeling that I had been launched into empty space.

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Not much I can say about these guys, unfortunately, but they’re good, so check ‘em, if you want. I saw this guy’s jacket, too.

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California’s most likely to be sued for medical malpractice, Impaled, however, was what my ears had their hearts set on at that hour. I intended to catch some of Enthroned, but they took too damn long to set up, and ironically enough, Impaled also were taking ages to set up, and thus started ten or fifteen minutes late. But fuck it, it’s Impaled playing The Dead Shall Dead Remain, in full, with dudes dressed as doctors, Hæmorrhage style, crowdsurfing/moshing in ‘blood’-spattered lab coats and surgeon masks. To add fuel to the spiritual bonfire of Bacchanal celebration, the infamous MDF Party Brigade struck suddenly with a bunch of glowsticks, inflatables, and other goodies, as you can sorta see here.

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One second, it’s just Impaled playing, the next, it looks like someone turned on a garden hose that shoots little plastic things you should never, ever, ever, eat.

I drank with the doctor you see in this picture, he’s pretty chill. I already forgot his name, though, because whiskey. And this little cute alien dude, even though this picture is from Saturday.

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All hail Dollar Tree, for it is America, and America is good.

Then I went and caught some Incantation, and I must say they’re not quite as slow as I expected, since I believe some of their members had been in Disma, and lemme tell ya, that band’s pretty slow. I kinda liked it, but would have preferred if vocalist John McEntee (also known for his work in Mortician and live stints in Immolation) didn’t insist on trying to sound “evil” even though song titles like “Emaciated Holy Figure” do that well enough. Sounded like a damn cartoon goblin. How brutal. Not shittalking, it was just ridiculous, being referred to as “sick fucks” two or three times in a 10 minute span. Good night.

 

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My men in MyManMike

We have reached a truly special moment in my history, where I not only am NOT posting about a show, but am also not bitching about something stupidly for the first time in ages. I’m enjoying this turnaround I’ve made, with minimal effort.

Hailing from South Korea, a country not widely known for its surprisingly large extreme music community,  MyManMike describe their style as Grindcore/Thrashcore/Powerviolence. Despite these tags often meaning “next to unlistenable unless you’re the right type of brain damaged like most punk/hardcore listeners”, it’s got a modern sheen and production that could be likened to bands in the vein of crossover goofs like In Defence; it’s clear, yet maintains enough rawness to fly the DIY flag and thus still be “punk”.

For starters, they’re catchy as fuck. “Inside Outside USA” for instance, after an almost obligatory anti-government sample, kicks into full gear and wastes no time with a beat that would get kids moving side to side almost by spiritual compulsion rather than voluntarily wanting to move. Generally, being an album of this type, a lot of the songs are going to blend together, so it’d be foolish to go about a track-by-track review for a 10 song release of rapid punches to the head, the longest being just under two and 3/4 minutes long.

I can say, however, that MyManMike shows a lot of promise, and it’d be highly recommended for anyone into ACxDC, Birth A.D., Fuck On The Beach, Charles Bronson, and Extortion.  If retarded vocals that alternate between yelped highs and strained lows, occasional chunky breakdowns, mile-a-second blasts, thrash metal-tinged tempos, and generally having fun and not taking yourself too seriously is your bag, maybe you’ll be into it. Which everyone with any sense is, so go on, take a listen. You shouldn’t regret it.